Hakainde Hichilema. Picture: GALLO IMAGES/AFP/SALIM DAWOOD
Hakainde Hichilema. Picture: GALLO IMAGES/AFP/SALIM DAWOOD

Zambian opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema says he is being held by police following an overnight raid on his home.

Hichilema’s United Party for National Development (UPND) said on its Facebook account that police fired teargas as they surrounded his home in Lusaka, the capital. Yields on the country’s dollar debt rose.

"My lips are swollen, my eyes are swollen, my skin is itching," Hichilema said by phone from Lusaka. He said he hid in a safe room in his house before police flooded it with gas that he could not identify to force him out.

Hichilema has refused to recognise President Edgar Lungu as the leader of Africa’s second-biggest copper producer after a closely fought election in August. The opposition party challenged the outcome in the constitutional court, but the petition was not heard after the time given for the case lapsed. Hichilema was arrested in October for unlawful assembly.

Police opened an inquiry into Hichilema and Mwamba following allegations they obstructed Lungu’s motorcade at a traditional ceremony in Western Province at the weekend, the state-owned Zambia Daily Mail reported on Tuesday, citing police. The UPND has denied any wrongdoing.

"They want to arrest my president," Geoffrey Mwamba, the party’s vice president, said in a video posted on the party’s Facebook account. "They are claiming he has committed a treasonable offense. That’s nonsense."

Yields on Zambia’s $1bn eurobonds due April 2024 rose 15 basis points to 8.04% by 11.14am GMT.

Police spokesperson Esther Katongo was not immediately available for comment when called on her cellphone.


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